December 7, 1965: The Mars Hill College Board of Trustees voted to accept the recommendation made by the special trustee committee in May of 1964 and unanimously agreed to name Dr. Fred Bentley the next president of Mars Hill College. Selected to replace President Dr. Blackwell, Dr. Bentley is Mars Hill’s nineteenth president, and was only the third man to hold the office since 1897. Dr. Bentley and his wife, Doris, were on campus as the Board of Trustees announced their decision.
Born in Roanoke, Virginia, Dr. Bentley graduated from Baylor University in 1958 with a Bachelor of Music degree and was a star athlete for the Baylor track and field team. Following his time at Baylor, Dr. Bentley earned his Master of Religious Education degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. It was during his time in seminary that Dr. Bentley claimed he first became interested in higher education administration and began to pursue his doctorate in the field. In 1962, Dr. Bentley earned his Doctor of Education degree in higher education and educational philosophy from the University of Indiana. Dr. Bentley remained at the University of Indiana where he served on the faculty in the department of government for two years before leaving to take the position of assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and assistant professor of education at the University of Louisville. During his time at time at Louisville, Dr. Bentley also oversaw the institution’s self-study for accreditation and served on the committees for the self-study of the entire university, two tasks that made his application stand out to the Mars Hill College trustees as Mars Hill was preparing to conduct its own self-study.
Dr. Bentley married the former Ms. Dorris Phillips, a 1956 alumna of Mars Hill College. The couple have three children.